Lord of the Flies: A Metaphor and ehicle for Broadening Boys' Understanding of What It Means to Be a Man — Steve Cohen, The Allen-Stevenson School, United States

The purpose of my research was to see whether my students’ conceptions of “manhood” could be broadened through a study of literature, in this case Lord of the Flies by William Golding. While I did not intend to lead my students to a particular definition, I did hope to lead them to one that was expansive and inclusive of other’s differing definitions. I wanted to see whether by the end of the study each believed that there were “many ways to be a boy” and, ultimately, a man.

Using Lord of the Flies with ninth graders, I investigated whether studying its characters could broaden students’ ideas about what it means to be male. Through class discussions, writing assignments, and blogging, characters’ “masculinity” was analyzed and connected to students’ own gender identifications. I administered a version of the Bem Sex Roles Inventory and a survey before and after the unit to measure changes in students’ definitions of gender categories. While it was difficult to measure the degree and quality of the change in thinking, it was clearly possible to challenge boys’ ideas and encourage them to question sex role definitions.

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Educator quote about IBSC Action Research

"I have found that action research creates a much more meaningful learning environment in the classroom, transforming even more the relationships between students and teachers."